- Title: WEST BANK: Waste disposal project stalls over political disagreement
- Date: 25th November 2013
- Summary: HEBRON, WEST BANK (FILE - SEPTEMBER 11, 2013) (REUTERS) VARIOUS TRUCKS COLLECTING RUBBISH PILE OF RUBBISH
- Embargoed: 10th December 2013 12:00
- Location: West bank
- Country: Palestinian Territories
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVADFRG0M5HSSXXQVATAY2U72TUR
- Story Text: Palestinian municipal authorities from the West Bank held an urgent news conference after receiving a letter from the Israeli Civil Administration freezing a solid waste disposal project in Al-Menya in West Bank.
Palestinian authorities said the Israeli side says the landfill will also have to deal with waste from Jewish settlements in the area.
The condition, which Israel says had already been agreed on. has infuriated Palestinians.
"This is a Palestinian project that is on Palestinian land, and we will not accept under any circumstances for the settlers to use this landfill, because we do not believe in the legitimacy of these settlements," said the head of Hebron municipality, Dr. Dawoud Al-Zaatari on Wednesday (November 20).
"We will launch a media campaign to put pressure on the Israeli side and we will contact the donors, the World Bank, the European Union, USAID, to put pressure on the Israeli side to change their mind," he added.
The Al-Menya project is jointly financed by the World Bank, EU, USAID, the Italian government and national contributions totalling 30 million U.S.dollars.
After Reuters contacted the Israeli Civil Administration for the clarification of its position on the issue, Israel said the joint use of the landfill had been agreed on by both parties and that the Palestinian authorities have now backtracked on the original agreement.
"During the last years a common process of the Palestinian Authority, the local leadership, the Civil Administration and the World Bank was carried out in order to find an environmental solution to improve the environment in the region of Bethlehem, Hebron and around Jerusalem," Civil Administration said in the statement sent to Reuters on Thursday (November 21).
"Thus the Civil Administration promoted the establishment of a regional landfill in area C, the Al-Menya Landfill. However, a change had occurred in the PA's position, inconsistent with past agreements."
The statement said Israeli authorities agreed on the importance of the new dump site for the environment of the area but reiterated their position that it should be used by both Palestinians and Israelis.
"The Civil Administration doesn't enable the opening of the site, due to the fact that the people involved had retreated from the agreements, according to which the site would be a regional Waste Site."
"The Civil Administration sees great importance in establishing the landfill and opening it without further delay, but in accordance with the agreements for the site to serve both the Palestinian population and the Jewish settlements in the region, as was clear and agreed upon throughout the entire process," the statement read.
Site construction started two years ago and was due to finish by December 2013.
International staff commissioned by donors helped to train local technicians, engineers and managers.
"Regarding the situation around the landfill we are concerned because we were confident with our support the Joint Service Council will announce their capacity, being trained in managing their work, mainly in the recycling of the plastic and about also in the capacity for treatment and disposal of special hospital wastage. Really, for us it was the completion of our work, the opening of the landfill. Our contribution until now is stopped in reality,'' said an Italian engineer, Antonio Larocca, who was training the Palestinian staff on managing the future dump site as part of the Italian foreign ministry programme to support local Palestinian authorities.
The idea behind the international involvement was to create a modern landfill capable of handling millions of cubic tonnes of waste generated by the territory in an environment-friendly manner.
The project is run by the Joint Service Council (JSC) for solid waste management of Hebron and Bethlehem.
Project CEO Yasser Dweik said if the project doesn't go ahead the local environment would be badly affected.
He said the southern West Bank cities of Bethlehem and Hebron, as well as villages to the south-east of Jerusalem, produce 650-700 tonnes of waste a day stored randomly and polluting the local environment.
"There are no alternatives. The alternatives are to continue to throw the waste in the valleys, torrents, the hills and behind the municipalities. This is devastating to the Palestinian environment," said Yasser Dweik.
The first stage of the landfill has been completed and is now ready to handle 2.5 million cubic metres of waste. The total capacity of the whole project, when completed, will be 5 million.
The landfill will also have facilities to recycle plastic, tyres and paper as well as medical waste. It is expected to employ 60 people.
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